15 posts categorized "XRIJF 2014"

All the picks posts for the 2014 XRIJF in one place....

“XRIJFI thought I'd add this feature post at the top of the blog to guide you to my previously published posts for each evening of the XRIJF. As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes in music. I may play a jazz blogger on the Internet, but I have a wide range of musical interests and a hunger to hear new sounds and stretch. They are generally possible to hear in one night (that would be with an emphasis on "generally"...you may have to miss part of one to make another and there are some where you just have to make a choice). In each post, I try to add some additional links, especially to video of the artists performing to give you a taste of their art so you know what you're getting when you go to hear:

There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings and make your own decisions.  Let us know what you think in the comments to this or the individual posts, especially if you saw one of the picks.

If you want to check out some of the "back story" from the artists at this year's festival on Twitter, you can follow their tweets on a separate page of the blog where I've embedded the Jazz@Rochester Twitter "stream."

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

The jam at XRIJF is at the "after hours" party every night

GVB Bell imageEvery night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, after the last concert is over and they're packing up the stages for overnight, some XRIJF patrons who are not yet ready to call it quits head over to the Rochester Plaza Hotel where there is an opportunity to watch (and more importantly hear) music "magic" happen, which can be the result when an eclectic and naturally improvisational group of musicians get together, imbibe some beverages and are backed by some consumate professionals. 

For 13 years, guitarist and Eastman prof Bob Sneider has emceed and led the festival's nightly jam session at the Rochester Plaza State Street Bar & Grill, which runs each night of the festival from 10:30 pm to 2:30 am. He is usually joined by bass played by Phil Flanigan or Dan Vitale, and drummer Mike Melito. Bob keeps the music flowing until last call, even when the artists are not yet "ready" to join in (Bob lines up a talented set each night of Eastman students and amateurs to let them get some experience playing for an audience, and many of them have some real, if still to be developed chops). Festival producer John Nugent, himself an accomplished jazz saxman, I think has missed sitting in at the jam session only once in 13 straight years.

The artists, almost all of whom are staying at the Rochester Plaza, often hang together, but are generally open to talking with fans. There is always some power networking going on among the artists and other music people there. However, either with or without prodding, some will eventually grab their instrument or give Phil, Dan or Mike a break.  When that happens it is sometimes magic, with several musicians from disparate groups creating great musical moments and have at time brought down the house.

The recent upgrade to the space at the Rochester Plaza Hotel where this all happens has really opened up the space and made it more open and easier to navigate when the crowds get heavy. There is seating and food outside as well (and sometimes video and piped in sound ... won't promise until I've been down myself).

But be forwarned, while there is good music going on right from the start, the "magic" when it comes usually comes after midnight...

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

A two-fer mega-post as XRIJF arrives ... what I'll be hearing on June 27th and June 28th


Well, it's here! I have a couple of hours before heading downtown to Jazz Street. Beautiful day here in Rochester, so why am I here inside writing? To record my picks for Friday and Saturday, the last two days of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival for you my readers, of course!

On Friday, June 27th, the eighth night of the XRIJF, I'm going to try to get to the Club Pass gigs of the following artists (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues, plus I've added links to sites and video if missing from the XRIJF's site):

  • Bill Frisell's Guitar in the Space Age: Bill Frisell comes to the jazz festival here quite often, but every time he comes he brings a wildly different project. It's always like he's a completely diferent artist each time he comes. So, I'll be heading out to Kilbourn to see him for maybe the 4th time at XRIJF. Based on what I've read, the quartet he's bringing will be mining the guitar that is the formative clay of Frisell's playing, including that of: jazz legend Charlie Christian; rock and roll's Chuck Berry, Duane Eddy, Link Wray and The Wrecking Crew; surf music icons Dick Dale, The Ventures and The Astronauts; folk's Pete Seeger; and country music stars Chet Atkins, Speedy West, Jimmy Bryant and Merle Travis. Frisell was born in 1951 ... can you tell? May have to get there early to get a good seat given all the guitarists in town who will likely be there... 
  • The Wee Trio: This trio has been here twice (in 2010 at MCC and 2012 at Roberts Wesleyan) and I had to miss them both times. Instead of a piano, The Wee Trio replaces it with vibes and a marimba. They range from standards to reimaginings of Nirvana songs, from straight up to sideways. Just the way I like it.... Here's a couple of videos, one of them playing The Oracle and another live performance from one of my favorite Chicago jazz clubs, the Green Mill (a bit of static at the beginning goes away). By the way, the Wee's drummer Jared Schonig used to hold down the beat with Rochester's own Paradigm Shift.
  • The Deciders: Despite City's mis-labeling them (as of this writing) in their guide as a rock band from Boulder this The Deciders is from Norway and is anything but, belonging more to the tradition of Sun Ra (without the spaceship) than to covers of blues and southern rock. As anyone who has read this blog for awhile will know, I like to open my ears and this group of musicians will do that from me.  A writer for the Irish Times calls them a "big, blowsy outfit, with plenty of chops and energy in spades." For a pretty big taste and confirmation of that here is a video of them from the 2012 MoldeJazz festival, and another of a set (I think, it's 23 minutes) from Victoria (probably B.C., Canada). 
  • Ibrahim Electric: We caught this Danish group when they were at the festival in 2010 and I am ready for more. Ibrahim Electric drives hard and breaks things, like barriers between genres, mixing jazz, rock, surf, afro-pop, soul and funk. Here they are with Rain Man, or this set from jazzahead2014's Danish Night.

This night's choices were hard as I would have liked to pull in the Rufus Reid Trio, but again have opted to branch out from the familiar as much as possible. Also Ester Rada (see below), opening for Marcus Miller Band outside.

On Saturday, June 28th, the last night of the XRIJF, sniff... sniff, I'm going to try to hear the following artists (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues, plus I've added links to sites and video if missing from the XRIJF's site):

  • Newport Jazz Festival: Now 60: Celebrating the 60 years that the Newport Jazz Festival, the first annual festival in the U.S., this cast of players is traveling the circuit. Directed by Anat Cohen, who was here last year, it includes Karrin Allyson, Randy Brecker, Mark Whitfield, Peter Martin, Larry Grenadier,and Clarence Penn, all of who are stars in their own right.  Although I've yet to make my way over to Rhode Island for the festival itself, I have shared the great streams of the concerts that WGBO and National Public Radio do each year. Maybe for the 61st?
  • Ester Rada: This Israeli born fits this festival so well, mixing all sorts of influences from across the world from Ethiopian jazz of Ester Rada's heritage to neo-soul, funk and R&B. Plus the music that I've heard just makes you want to move. Her performance is going to be a party in the Big Tent (or on the street on Friday) if she brings it like she does on this live cut of Bad Guy from the Barby Club in Tel Aviv.
  • Cyrille Aimée: Depends on my mood, but by the end of the festival I'm usually ready to kick back and end it on a mellow tone (and that may be necessary given my previous pick). Max at Eastman Place is a space for that. If it goes the other way toward the more driving and intense side, I'll end with The Deciders at Montage, which is the space for that (although that's only if I don't see them Friday). The Washington Post describes Cyrille Aimée's voice as "like fine whiskey--oaky and smooth, with a hint of smokiness." When I saw her at the MAG awhile back she was touring with a Brazilian guitarist. This year she'll probably be appearing with the band on her new album It's A Good Day, with bass, drums and three guitars to cover her main influences of gypsy, jazz and Brazilian music. Here's a recent video of a live performance and one from 2012 singing Caravan with her Surreal Band at Birdland.

There are only 3 above as it is highly likely that I will miss one of my Friday picks and there is usually a few repeats, in different venues, between Friday and Saturday of the festival.  If that's not necessary, I might get over to the Lutheran Church to see Susanna. The last night will be a fluid night.

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...usually). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 27th and June 28th and make your own decisions. You'll also be able to choose from a fine (although limited) assortment of local gigs in my regular Wednesday listings post.

Well, it's been a great ride figuring out my 2014 XRIJF with you... I'll see you on Jazz Street (where I'm heading as soon as I hit the Enter key...).

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

The music I wanna hear on June 26th of the XRIJF ....


As the excitement builds for the start of the festival tomorrow, I decided that I should pull out as many of the stops as possible to get these "pre-festival" posts out before the Rochester International Jazz Festival begins (tomorrow), as all bets are off once it gets underway. We'll see about tomorrow... but you get one tonight at least.

On Thursday, June 26th, the seventh night of the XRIJF, I'm going to try to get to the Club Pass gigs of the following artists (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues, plus I've added links to sites and video if missing from the XRIJF's site):

  • Manuel Valera: Although I would love to see pianist Manuel Valera with his band New Cuban Express (I would love to see a new Cuban series someday at the XRIJF... hint, hint...), he will be playing solo piano at XRIJF in Hatch Hall. As Howard Mandel, jazz writer and President of the Jazz Journalists Association notes about Valera, it is an "unalloyed pleasure to to discover a young man so accomplished that his potential seems boundless" I have to agree. For a taste, here is Valera working solo (apparently at home) on John Coltrane's Giant Steps.
  • Phaedra Kwant: Described as a "musical chameleon," this Dutch bassist, singer, lyricist and composer tries to "create my own musical signature by using less conventional forms of compositions, sounds and arrangements", combining her virtuosic grooves with melodic lines and leaving "sufficient room for improvisation." Here she is at Dizzy's Rotterdam (albeit a few years ago) for a taste.
  • Anders Hagberg Quartet: There are not a lot of flautists out there plying the jazz trade and Anders Hagberg is one of the best (along with the soprano saxophone) on the international scene. In addition to his own projects such as the Quartet, Hagberg toured worldwide with groups such as Mynta, Yggdrasil and the New Jungle Orchestra and worked with master percussionist Marilyn Mazur (who was last here in 2010 with trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg). For a taste, here is Hagberg on flute playing the song Zawinul and also some amazing sounds playing Caravan on the contrabass flute. 
  • Hypnotic Brass Ensemble: And now for something completely different ...brass sounds from my former home town, Chicago. In the 90s, this group of 8 brothers brought together their musicianship (a trait throughout their whole family), their jazz roots and a hip hop sensibility, and made a living busking on the streets of Chicago for many years (first time I heard them was on the streets of Chi-town). The Hyptnotic Brass Ensemble will be a fun show and they are unlike any other brass band you've heard. For a taste, check out this live performance of Planet Gibbous outside a subway station in Times Square.

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...usually). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 26th and make your own decisions. You'll also be able to choose from a fine (although limited) assortment of local gigs in my regular Wednesday listings post.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF, Day 6: Only three more days of the festival to go, will I make it? Stay tuned...


So, I was getting a bit worried about pounding all these posts (and others I have in the queue) before the festival starts on Friday and then
"discovered" (again) that being in this situation is not a new thing for me. Last year, I gave up and posted only ONE post with my picks instead of the nine I've committed to this year.  Serves me right for not looking at last year to see what precedents I may have set .... But now I'm committed now (or should be)!

So, on Wednesday, June 25th, the sixth night of the XRIJF, I've picked the following artists to try to get a listen to (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues, plus I've added links to sites and video if missing from the XRIJF's site):

  • Mike Stern/Bill Evans Band featuring Steve Smith and Tom Kennedy: While I don't always go for the fusion side of jazz, I enjoy it when played by great musicians. Stern, Evans and the rest of this band are top shelf. I've been reading about Stern's guitar playing and now I want to hear it. For a taste, here they are live at the Duketown Festival in 2013
  • Warren Wolf & The Wolfpack: Although I wasn't familiar with Warren Wolf but in getting cuts for my 2014 Spotify playlist (see the middle column of the blog), found some tracks and really dug them. You can check Warren and the Wolfpack out on this video from a live gig at his alma mater Berklee College of Music in Boston, brought to us by radio station WBGO.
  • David's Angels: This Swedish/Danish group is another genre-busting group, which is not uncommon in the Nordic Jazz series at XRIJF.  As you might have guessed from some of my previous picks this year and over previous jazz festivals, while I love jazz (and straightahead at that) my ears are not slaves to any genre. Here is a video of David's Angels performing their song Visions in Sweden. 
  • The Brain Cloud: While they sorta had me with the name of the band, I love Western swing which is a loose definition of this NYC band's genre. The name Brain Cloud name apparently comes from an old Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys song that goes "My brain is cloudy, my soul is upside down...," which you can take a listen to in the Brain Cloudy Blues.

As you can see by the number of picks, I am unlikely to get to see all of these. Geez, I also would have loved to catch Diane Schuur and the Brian Kellock & Tommy Smith gig, but at least at this juncture, I'm sticking with the "who you don't know side" of XRIJF (but who knows...?). As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 25th and make your own decisions. You'll also be able to choose from a fine (although limited) assortment of local gigs in my regular Wednesday listings post.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF 2014: Of course there is some "homespun" talent at the festival

We have a lot of jazz and other musicians conveniently located right here in Rochester and they will be out in force again this year. The number of local artists (and artists who hail from around here) playing the festival has increased over the years.

This year, you'll find the following locals gracing the Club Pass and other stages, including (to save space, I'm listing them here alphabetically and the links will take you to their XRIJF artist page, providing times and venues):

During the week, there are the noontime concerts at the Rochester Central Public Library downtown. Listed below alphabetically; click on the link to find out when:

And of course there are the great High School Bands we all love to listen to while we get our first beer and get in line (or just sit on Jazz Street and the other venues and chill). Listed below alphabetically; click on the link to find out when your favorites be playing the Jazz Street Stage:

Eastman School of Music has a list of their faculty and students playing the XRIJF, too (many of them also listed above).

I apologize if I missed any (and feel free to point it out so I can amend). You can find out information on a number of these artists on this blog by checking out their sites linked to from Rochester Jazz Artists Links button at the top of the page. Remember that you can go hear many of these artists throughout the year, so if you miss them at XRIJF (as I will on many, I'm afraid....), you can likely catch them later.Just watch my listings posts published every Wednesday or, if you prefer to be notified by email, put your email address in the box in the middle panel, follow the instructions, and you'll get all the posts to this blog.  You can check tomorrow and next Wednesday for those playing elsewhere around ROC during the XRIJF.  

In addition to the above, the nightly late nigth jams at the State St. Bar & Grill at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, which in addition to Bob Sneider and the guys usually includes local students and others who sit in for a tune or two before the XRIJF artists step up to the stage for a jam. There will likely be some other performances around the "footprint" of the XRIJF that are not part of the XRIJF as well.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF, Day 5: From Cannonball to creole, the XRIJF is a smorgasboard of sound ....


Some hard bop, perhaps some Creole flavors, a bit of stew from a group of Norwegians and Poles. This is on the menu for me on June 24th of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

On June 24th, the fifth night of the XRIJF, I'm going to try to hear these picks (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues):

  • Louis Hayes & The Cannonball Legacy Band: One thing I've noticed about this year's festival is that fewer of the old lions of jazz are present. While that is not unexpected given the age of those who blazed trails in jazz or worked with Monk, Coltrane, Horace Silver and Cannonball Adderly and other players who did. Louis Hayes, who kept time with those four and so many others like them will bring his group that pays tribute to the music of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, one of the most popular jazz groups of the 1960s-70s. Although from 2008, I'm sure this video of a performance in Brazil will give you a good idea of what you'll be in store for in Kilbourn Hall. I believe the current lineup features some heavy hitters as well, including Vincent Herring on alto, Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, Rick Germanson on piano, and Dezron Douglas on bass.
  • Etienne Charles: Born in Trinidad, educated in Florida and New York, trumpeter (and steel drum and cuatro player) Etienne Charles is an artist that works a lot of musical influences into the gumbo of his sound, such as on his most recent CD Creole Soul, but can also hold it down, such as the hard bop of this smoking In the Winelight at B Sharps Jazz Club in Talahassee, FL.  Not being as familiar with his work before this, I'm looking forward to his set and hearing more of it later.
  • Jacob Young's "Forever Young": This group formed with guitarist Young, a Norwegian American, saxophonist Trygve Seim, and the members of the Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski's trio, releasing an album on ECM. If you want to get a taste, check out ECM's Forever Young site. Apparently the first two cuts have a more Brazilian influence.

As you can see, I've only got three picks for this night.  I'm leaving the last as a wildcard, although possibles include Peter Bernstein & Friends, Blind Boy Paxton, or 'dose of 'bones with the always fun Bonerama who have appeared at the festival numerous times. On the other hand as I will have a few more days to go before finishing, this may be the day I go home to sleep early.... nah!

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 24th and make your own decisions.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF, Day 4: Monday of the festival is a heady brew of jazz ....

“XRIJFOne of the things about this being my blog rather than a news outlet is that I am not trying to pick the best for the most. My readers (at least those whom I've met) are all over the board on the types of jazz that they love. I cannot make picks that will make them all happy so I'm just going pick some of the Club Pass gigs and others that I'm hoping will make me happy. On June 23rd, the fourth night of the XRIJF, it'll make me very happy if I can hear these picks (the links on their names at the beginning will take you to XRIJF's page with times and venues):

  • Vijay Iyer: He's playing with his trio in Kilbourn on Monday (and in Hatch solo on Tuesday). One of my favorite jazz artists these days, Vijay Iyer is one of the most innovative and interesting jazz pianists around. I'll head to get in the Kilbourn line early for this one. You can read all about why in Jeff Spevak's great profile in the D&C, but I just want to make sure that I hear him play.
  • Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio: After winning the Thelonius Monk Institute Jazz Saxophone competition, this young woman has been tearing it up in New York and elsewhere. If you don't believe me, then listen to this set at the Berklee College of Music, presented by WGBO.
  • Nels Cline & Julian Lage: These two guitarists are eclectic and innovative and I'm really looking forward to seeing them play together. Wilco guitarist Nels Cline's website's page on his collaboration with Lage says their set will feature compositions by both players, noting that "[t]hose familiar with Cline's work may be surprised to hear him play without effects pedals or looping devices; those familiar with Lage's work may be surprised to hear him play totally 'free' improvisation." A taste of them playing is available on Soundcloud. The Little Theatre space should be a great venue for this gig as well.
  • Kari Ikonen Trio: As Kari Ikonen's website puts it, this trio "cooks with the best European ingredients, the art of Afro-American cuisine and finest Oriental spices. . . . Chef Kari Ikonen and his team serve up a menu that combines his own creations with fresh interpretations of traditional Armenian dishes and classic recipes from cordons bleus like Coltrane or Shorter."  I'll take an order of that... Here they are live in a video of the Trio from last year.

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes and are possible to hear in one night (well, almost...). There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the full XRIJF listings for June 23rd and make your own decisions.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF, Day 3: Opening your ears to who you don't know on June 22nd ...

“XRIJFOne of XRIJF Music Producer John Nugent's sayings that I subscribe to wholly is "it's not who you know, it's who you don't know" (even have the t-shirt).  Opening your ears to who you don't know, at least for me, leads to new music I want to hear more of. I've started many relationships with new music at the jazz fest.  In that spirit, I'm going to try to get out to hear these picks for Day 3, June 22nd, of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival:

  • Cécile McLorin Salvant: Like Gregory Porter last year, Cécile McLorin Salvant has made a big splash on the jazz scene in the past year.  I missed her concert in Buffalo at the Art Love Jazz series at the Albright-Knox Gallery and heard that it was fantastic. Check out her performance and interview on WNYC
  • Benedikt Jahnel Trio: This trio with a "Zen groove aesthetic" will sound great in the Max at Eastman venue and what I've heard from their recent ECM recording tells me this may be the show I see at the end of the evening to chill. Check out more on the group's site.
  • Harris Eisenstadt Golden State: While I love straightahead jazz, you may notice that I can tend to pick some of the groups that may challenge your ears a bit. I'm happy that some groups at XRIJF this year that will expand our horizons a bit. Harris Eisenstadt's Golden State project is one of those groups. Just wish that fellow Chicagoan and AACM alum Nicole Mitchell, who was a member of the group at its inception, was going to be along for the ride as I didn't get a chance to hear her when I was living in Chi-town.  Eisenstadt made a short video about the project.
  • Hot Club of Detroit: Love me some Gypsy jazz al la Django. Hot Club of Detroit eschews percussion, but I'm intrigued that on their most recent disc Junction they have brought in saxophonist Jon Irabagon, who is better known as a member of the iconoclastic Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Don't know if he'll be with them at XRIJF, though. Here's a video to give you the flavor.

As always, these picks reflect my own eclectic tastes. There are so many great choices each night to fit any taste, so check out the XRIJF listings for June 22nd and make your own decisions.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF, Day 2: What I'll be trying to hear at the festival on June 21st

“XRIJFAlthough there is no way I'm going to get to all of these, here are my picks for Day 2, June 21st, of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival:

  • Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet: Jason Marsalis is a member of the great Marsalis clan with vibes... what more do you need?   Here's a live cut at Dizzy's in NYC oYoutube.
  • Flat Earth Society: On their website, the FES notes that "To attempt to describe the music of Flat Earth Society is an impossible (and pointless) task."  I may be different than the average jazz Joe, but I like that. You can hear some Zappa in these guys (they even say so...). It should be a fun mixture of jazz, rock and humor. Here's a video (and there are some cuts available on their site.
  • John Escreet: Hopefully pianist Escreet bring his current CD's group of Evan Parker, John Hébert and Tyshawn Sorey on his date here. Looks like Escreet is going to be doing a duo date with Tyshawn Sorey, based on his website, but with those two, it should be great.  Here's a video from the new group (although not the duo...).
  • Snarky Puppy: This 2014 Grammy winner group is a large ensemble with a mix of jazz, funk and world music. Snarky Puppy should be a great show and one that XRIJF producer says is a must hear.
  • Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio: Sunna and I met on Twitter way back and it was great to finally hear her in person last year. Sunna Gunnlag's trio will fill the Lutheran Church space with beautiful sound.

As always, these picks reflect my own, somewhat weird, choices. There are so many choices each night, so make your own decisions. 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Listen to 2014 XRIJF artists while you read Jazz@Rochester....

Spotify-logo-primary-vertical-dark-background-rgb_300pxI've set up a Spotify playlist with selected cuts from a number of the artists who will be playing at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (those who I could find on Spotify, that is). Many of them are my picks for trying to hear this year.  I've tried to find cuts from recent work where available (or in the configuration I expect that the artists will appear at XRIJF). 

Listen to a cut to check out an artist you're thinking about hearing; play the list to get a feeling for just how eclectic XRIJF will be (and I'm only just touching the surface). I'll try to add others as I find them or other Spotify users let me know about some more or a cut that highlights the artist more effectively. You can check out the existing playlist for local artists right below if you'd like too.

You can find a box in the middle panel and click on the play button to play while you read (don't leave the page or it will stop, so you may want to open other pages you read in a new page). Or download Spotify and click here (Spotify URI) to add the playlist to your own Profile. Happy listening!

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

XRIJF, Day 1: The skinny on my jazz festival and some picks for Friday, June 20th

“XRIJFIf you are trying to hear as much music as possible while at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (June 20-28), you can't really go wrong as there is great music everywhere. Free on the street, in Kilbourn Hall and Eastman Theatre, and in the Club Pass venues—there is music everywhere!

If however, like me, you have picked out the music you'd like to hear beforehand, you are bound for frustration if you try to hear too much each night (and there is SO MUCH I want to hear!) as you run between venues, stand in lines, and also try to get the odd beer or street food along the way. Maintaining that kind of pace (4-5 concerts a night) for 9 days can be done, but it takes a toll (and a spreadsheet...). Like those folks you see at concerts spending most of their time holding up and watching the pixelated video image of the performance on their camera or tablet, you may end up missing out on the magic taking place right before your eyes and ears. It becomes work. As Jazz@Rochester is not a job but a passion, over successive jazz festivals, I've moved away from the the frenetic pace (although admittedly mine will be more than many). I am at the festival to listen to some great music, get introduced to some new sounds, and have a good time. Somewhere in there I hope to connect my readers to what's going on there, the artists and the general "conversation" around the XRIJF through this blog and the other places you find Jazz@Rochester. 

I have some initial choices for each night, but I leave it open to the endless shifting variables of each evening to determine my final choices and always leave my mind open to changing my plan. On some days it might be possible to hear all of them (or at least portions of some) without bending the rules of space and time, but like I said ... these are just a first cut. What I'll be doing in this and eight other, much shorter, posts is letting you know what I'd like to hear each night. I'll link into XRIJF's page on the artist or group, if it is useful, and link to other sources to learn more about them and their music.  I have pretty eclectic tastes so not all of them will be jazz (and that's OK...), but like the festival, most of them will be. I'll expect that you'll follow the link to get the information about venue and times, or you might just pick up the XRIJF app for your smartphone to help with that.

So, at last, now my "picks" for June 20th of the XRIJF are:

  • Roy Hargrove: His first show at the Harro East will a great kickoff to the 2014 XRIJF as I believe I saw him at one of the earlier RIJFs after arriving in ROC in 2002. 
  • Partisans: UK group Partisans is opening up a US tour here and based on what I'm hearing on a Youtube playlist I found (and their site) will be an intense set, especially in the setting of Christ Church.
  • Sun Trio:  From Finland, Sun Trio had me when I read the quote in their bio from All About Jazz approximating their style to British artist David Hockney (but I'm weird that way...). We'll see if I agree with that assessment, but it fits my bill of checking out some new sounds (and I've usually enjoyed the Finnish groups that Nordic Jazz Now has brought to the Lutheran Church). You can check them out on their website or this trio cut I found on YouTube
  • Akiko Tsuruga Quartet: Anyone that reads this blog regularly knows I have something for B3s and the organ trio groove and Akikio Tsuruga and her quartet can cook (here with Lou Donaldson). 
  • Holophoner: This is a group including trumpeter Eastman alum Mike Cottone with six other young jazz musicians who met in 2012 after being selected to attend the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Performance in LA. The group performed throughout the globe as part of that Institute experience Here is a full live performance of Holophoner did at the Blue Whale.  

The above are the gigs I've selected for myself for Day 1, but of course there will be a lot of other great music out there that I might be sorry I missed (or may end up at ... who knows?).  There are also the great free shows on Friday the 20th, including jump jive with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, local artists (who will be profiled in a separate post) and the high school jazz bands that get us going at the beginning.


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Less than a month until the 13th XRIJF gets underway . . .

Believe it or not, the 13th Edition of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival will be upon us in 30 days! This year's festival will feature more than 1,200 artists from around the world playing all kinds of music in 20 venues in downtown Rochester. There will continue a number of free shows around Rochester during the festival. Of course, there are the headliner free shows on the street with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Lou Gramm, Marcus Miller Band, Soulive and George Thorogood and the Destroyers. With the support of the City of Rochester, Rochester General Health System, The Community Foundation, Wegmans, RG&E and Lidestri, XRIJF will be presenting over 75 free shows on six outdoor stages and free noon concerts at the downtown Rochester Monroe County Library. The popular nightly jam sessions continue at the Rochester Plaza Hotel on State Street. The revised layout has made that venue so much more inviting to this veteran.

In addition to being one of the world's largest jazz festivals, Rochester's festival also presents one of the more extensive lineups of artists from around the world. This year there are artists and groups from 19 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Aruba, Cuba, Brazil, South Africa, Japan, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, England, Scotland, France, Mali, Israel, Netherlands and Poland. The festival's popular Made in the UK series is now in its seventh year and remains the largest presentation of British jazz outside the UK. Nordic Jazz Now, will celebrate its eighth year at the festival and always presents some of the best and quirkiest music at the festival .

There is a new venue this year called "Squeezers at the Inn on Broadway." The Inn was featuring live music anyway the past couple of years, so it is a good idea for the folks at XRIJF to "bring them into the family." Squeezers will be a tent with a capacity of 500, adjacent to the Inn on Broadway and will present 18 jazz, blues, and R&B concerts during the nine days. Squeezers is named in honor of the former Bandbox on State Street, which was also known as Squeezers, and is sponsored the DiMarco family in honor of the former club's owner, Joe Strazzeri of Rochester are sponsoring the venue.

Our local Public TV station WXXI will again film 4 concerts in Kilbourn Hall for national distribution on PBS stations. Also returning will be the XRIJF Gerry Niewood Scholarship Concert, which is free, on Monday, June 23 at 8:00 p.m. with the Eastman Jazz Ensemble directed by Bill Dobbins and special guest John Sneider. The 2014 Scholarship recipients will be announced at the concert. The festival has awarded more than $130,000 in scholarships to 31 Eastman School of Music students since 2002. Continuing with the educational angle, 22 of the great regional high school jazz bands will be performing on the City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage presented by The Community Foundation. This year while standing in line for food or Kilbourn (or sitting down for a bit) we'll be hearing students from high school bands from Bloomfield, Brighton, Brockport, Buffalo Academy, Canandaigua, Eastridge, Fairport, Hilton, Honeoye Falls Lima, Spencerport, Greece Arcadia, Greece Athena, Greece Odyssey, Greece Olympia, Newark, Pittsford Mendon, Pittsford Sutherland, MCC, School of the Arts, Webster Schroeder, Webster Thomas, West Irondequoit. The Jazz Workshops for Aspiring Music Students is returning. This series of five structured jazz workshops is sponsored by Wegmans, hosted by Bob Sneider, Eastman School of Music Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media and Senior Instructor of Jazz Guitar, and led by five visiting international musicians performing at XRIJF. Aspiring students will meet, listen to and learn from professional jazz musicians and also play. The series will be held in room 120, the Ray Wright Room, at Eastman School of Music from 1:00-2:30 p.m. Workshops are open to all aspiring grade school and high school music students, no pre-registration is required.

Using the XRIJF app, I have gone over the schedule and made some picks for my XRIJF this year and hope to start telling you all about them soon. My picks are, by definition, subject to change, but that is one of the things I love about the XRIJF. I'm looking forward to this year as there are lot of places in my schedule that may provide me an opportunity to make the "odd" choices that create opportunities to find new "favorites."

More later . . .

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Use this App-y goodness for your 2014 XRIJF

XRIJF app imageThe official Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival smartphone apps for Android and iPhone are now available for download.

The app includes the full schedule, artist bios and photos, venue information, maps and the ability to buy tickets. Users can select favorite artists and make a custom itinerary around the festival, and take and share photos with Photo Booth (including selfies). There is also a search tool that allows easy browsing. Both apps can be downloaded through their site.

The app was very useful for this XRIJF-goer last year both in setting up my itinerary and figuring out where to go next when faced with a need to change my choice.  No need for breaking out that spreadsheet now.... 

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.

Another Jazz in June gets underway... The XRIJF lineup announcement

XRIJF2014PressConfI cannot believe it is already that time again, but this morning I was again sitting in the balcony of Eastman School of Music's beautiful Hatch Hall for this year's press conference announcing the full lineup of Club Pass and outdoor music for this year's Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, which will run from June 20th through the 28th. After a round of short speeches by XRIJF producer Marc Iacona who thanked the sponsors, followed by a smattering of sponsor representatives and assorted politicians and representatives of politicians, music director John Nugent hit the stage announced the year's lineup.  

There are some real highlights for my eclectic tastes in jazz and music at this year's XRIJF, with some returning and some new sounds to check out, but you'll have to catch my notes on the lineup in later posts (gotta go back to work, man!). Until then, please feel free to check out the XRIJF lineup at their website


This post was originally published on JazzRochester.